At the helm of his company, Once, since 2005, Ziad Nassar is used to travelling to organise spectacular parties and royal weddings, especially in the Arab world. Although he loves discovering new places and going back to magical cities, including Paris and London, Nassar always dreams of coming home to Beirut. The reason is simple: “I am in love with my apartment,” he says. “Nothing can compete with my dwelling.” After seeing Askdeco’s work on a project made for one of his best friends, Nassar contacted the Lebanon-based team and started a conversation. “Askdeco acted as therapists”, he explains. “They didn’t ask me typical questions about my favourite colours and materials. Instead, they really tried to understand my lifestyle and they designed my home accordingly”.
Located in the heart of Beirut in the vibrant district of Ashrafieh, the 200-square-metre, multi-floor apartment reflects contemporary aesthetics that clearly contrast with the old surroundings. “We converted a small studio into a three-level penthouse, providing a very modern and efficient living space overlooking a historic district”, says Nisrine Nasr, co-founder and interior designer at Askdeco. “The apartment epitomises the resurgent vibe of a city home to world-renowned fashion designers, art galleries, performing arts venue and trendy bistros and cafés.”
One of the main objectives was to create an open and functional layout filled with natural light, which required architectural alterations to expand the size of the current floor-to-ceiling windows. “The clients always have something in mind, and our job is to work with them step-by-step to tie it all together”, confesses Nasr.
The apartment offers mesmerising views of Beirut. Featured here is the “One” chair designed by Konstantin Grcic for Magis and the Opinion Ciatti side table Opinion Ciatti side table by Bruno Rainaldi, Tab.u collection. Framed print photo of the owner (Ziad Nassar) done by Jordanian artist Alaa Baghdadi.
To define Nassar’s preferences in terms of look and feel, the Askdeco team created a mood board, which resulted in a masculine scheme focusing on neutral tones – with Mediterranean grey-white marble walls and mute grey wood – and an abundance of metal finishes. Touches of blue and black were added, too. Everything was tailored to Nassar’s lifestyle needs. For example, following the owner’s input, a multipurpose sink with storage space in the entrance and a walk-in closet connecting the washroom with the bedroom were installed. “We were able to analyse the owner’s requirements accurately and we responded with functional and creative solutions that addressed them,” says Nasr. “A design concept can sometimes be difficult for a client to visualise, but seeing it all worked out on paper can help to understand the direction that you are taking them in.”
Everyday, Nassar is surrounded by contemporary décor while enjoying 360-degree views over the lively streets of below. “The first thing I do in the morning is open the curtains; I love seeing the Beirut panorama and having the sun coming in. Where could I find such a space in the middle of the city where I can wear my sunglasses all day long?” the owner says. “Because of the glass windows, everybody can look at me, but I don’t care.”
A Piero Fornasetti cabinet, armchair by Erba Italia, side table by R&Y Augousti and artwork by local Lebanese designer HAWINI.
The main floor comprises a well-lit kitchen and a reception area that leads to a small terrace with trees. “The flexibility of the space allows me to meditate but also organise parties,” says Nassar. “And if one day I want to change the location of the sofa, for example, I can do it.” At the core of the space, the sculptural, winding staircase with a mesh mirror handrail finish is both artistic and functional – as it connects the three levels of the penthouse. Set between two glazed partitions, it gives a sky-high illusion and a sense of openness, visually blending the exterior with the interior spaces.
The dining area and living room occupy the middle level, where Nassar’s favourite piece, the big painting Room 1 collection (2014) made of leaves and threads by Venezuela-born Miami-based artist Ramon Aular, combines with a custom-made coffee table in aluminium by Lebanese sculptor Anachar Basbous, a cabinet by Fornasetti and two sofas Maxalto designed by Antonio Citterio. Furniture by Askdeco, armchairs by Erba Italia, a side table by R&Y Augousti and the artwork Untitled Books (2015) by Lebanese collective Hawini, among others, also adorn this space.
The upper floor hosts the master and guest bedrooms, and a vanity area furnished with a Magis ‘One’ chair and an Opinion Ciatti side table. “I like the fact that my home has three levels that are connected, but I can also live on each one of them independently as they all have a main entrance and mini bar, and provide views and comfort,” says Nassar. “The space is big – I can have dinner with 50 people – but at the same time it can be cosy.” Since he moved in at the end of 2015, Nassar’s love story with his apartment has never stopped. “If my home would be turned into a human being, it would be my perfect match, or my twin,” he smiles.
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